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Flexible Working: working for families, working for business A report by the Family Friendly Working Hours Taskforce

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Flexible Working: working for families, working for business

Preface

In 2009 the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions established this Taskforce to explore the challenges around improving the availability and quality of family friendly working practices – focusing on working hours and patterns – and provide recommendations for change. The Taskforce is made up of experts from business, organisations that represent businesses, employees and families, non-government bodies and government departments. This is the report and recommendations of that group to Government, employers and organisations that represent employers and employees.

Membership of the Taskforce
Co-chairs: Amanda Rowlatt (DWP, Director for Child Poverty), Emma Stewart (Women Like Us) Dr. Adam Marshall (British Chambers of Commerce) Andrew Carruthers (Family and Parenting Institute) David Curtis (Women Like Us) Gaby Hinsliff (Journalist) Janice Shersby (Government Equalities Office) Dr. Joel Burden (Third Millenium Information Ltd) Jeff Rose (BT) Judy Greevy (HMRC) Katie Law (Department for Children, Schools and Families) Katja Hall (Confederation of British Industry) Mark Stimpfig (ConnectED Education) Matthew Hilton (Department of Business Innovation and Skills) Mike Emmott (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) Narmadha Thiranagama (TUC) Niamh Bryan (Domoliver) Rosalie Ward (Equality and Human Rights Commission) Sarah Dickens (Asda) Sarah Jackson (Working Families) Stephen Bevan (Works Foundation) Sue Davis (Bourne Leisure) Sue Veszpremi (Jobcentre Plus)

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Flexible Working: working for families, working for business

Foreword
Co-chairs of the Family Friendly Working Hours Taskforce Emma Stewart (Co-founder Women Like Us) Amanda Rowlatt (Director for Child Poverty, DWP) We were delighted to be invited by the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions to chair this Taskforce looking at flexible working practices. As it brings together a group of representatives from business, organisations that represent business, employees and families, and non-government bodies and government departments it has provided an excellent opportunity for joined up working between business, government and non-government organisations. Our aim was to explore what more can be done to support and encourage more employers to increase the availability and accessibility of quality flexible and part time work. We were asked to explore the challenges of increasing flexible working opportunities at all levels and provide recommendations for change, drawing on our different experiences and expertise. In doing so, we have been struck by the common themes running through the experiences of the wide range of stakeholders and this supports what the evidence tells us. The social benefits of increasing flexible working opportunities are clear. Enabling more people to work flexibly will improve their lives by providing a better balance between work and home. It will also reduce the number of people dependent on benefits, reduce the number of children of working parents who live in poverty, enable older workers to stay in the labour market, and enable carers to balance their caring responsibilities with paid work and help employees in general to have a better work–home balance. Many women who work part time are working below their potential. Evidence shows that half of all women working part time have previously held jobs requiring higher levels of skills or qualifications or more managerial or supervisory responsibility. Part time jobs are largely found in a limited number of sectors and often involve positions which are lower paid. It also means that there are fewer opportunities for others at the lower end of the skills market to enter the labour market. This is a huge loss to the economy and results in inequality in the workplace. The estimated costs of under-utilising women’s skills is estimated to be between 15 and 23 billion pounds or 1.3 to 2.0 per cent of GDP.1 Part time working is one of a range of ways of working flexibly. We want to raise awareness of the full range of options and to change the perception that part time working necessarily involves a fixed number or hours or days a week and that flexible working necessarily means working fewer hours. Modern attitudes towards parenting also mean that more fathers want to be able to work flexibly in order to spend time with their family and play an active role in raising their children. More carers want and need to work flexibly in order to balance their caring responsibilities with paid work. Older workers want and need to extend their working lives but do not necessarily want to work full time. Employees, more generally, want to better balance their obligations in the workplace with their responsibilities at home.

1 The Women and Work Commission (February 2006) ‘Shaping a Fairer Future’

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Flexible Working: working for families, working for business

What has been evident from our discussions is that there are clear benefits to business in implementing flexible working, and that there already exists much good practice, so we are looking to build and expand on the progress that has been made. We believe that in order to achieve true cultural change, where availability and take up of flexible ways of working is considered the norm and opportunities have increased at all levels, more needs to be done to better promote the business case for flexible and part time working to employers – to see it as a genuine opportunity to build greater efficiencies, increase productivity and gain access to a wider talent pool. Importantly more support is required to help all businesses to implement flexible working. So this report aims to look at the issue from the perspective of employers and sets out recommendations for what more can be done to both encourage and support employers to realise the benefits of flexible working in their organisation.

Aspirations of the Taskforce
Our aspiration is for the UK to become the leading economy for 21st century flexible working practices, supporting sustainable economic growth through improved work-home balance. We strongly believe that as well as a powerful social case there are clear business benefits for flexible working across different sectors, job levels and size of organisation. There is a wealth of evidence to support this, and the recession has created a climate where there is an even stronger appetite for flexible working. Businesses will benefit from a wider talent pool and better practices which have been found to increase productivity. When employers are recruiting or re-organising their businesses they can look for people with the right skills and aptitude without being limited by historic work patterns. But we need to ensure that more employers see the business benefits, and importantly are supported to make flexible working a part of their business. This approach will benefit all employees including those who are parents, carers and older workers. We strongly believe that in order for real change to be achieved, there needs to be joined up and collaborative working between employers, organisations that represent business, employees and families, and non government bodies and government departments. Specifically our vision for change will mean that employers, employees and their representative organisations, non government bodies and Government should work towards:

• • •

promoting flexible working practices across all sectors regardless of job level. challenging the perception that 9 to 5 work is the default option - empowering employers and employees to have a well-informed, confident and productive discussion on the flexible working options that may be suitable for a role. promoting the business benefit of flexible working and ensuring that employers are fully supported to be able to implement practices in their organisation.

non government bodies and organisations that represent employers and employees.5 Flexible Working: working for families. employees and families and others with an interest in improving the availability and quality of family friendly working practices. We look forward to seeing Government’s response to our recommendations and welcome feedback from employers. The recommendations we are putting forward are pragmatic. We have valued the opportunity to come together and collectively pool our views. Emma Stewart and Amanda Rowlatt (Co-chairs of the Family Friendly Working Hours Taskforce) . employers. make the best use of current resources available and build on rather than replicate the recommendations from other groups. organisations that represent employers. working for business Therefore our report includes both strategic and practical recommendations for Government. non government bodies. experience and expertise to enable us to generate both strategic and practical recommendations for real change. In making our recommendations we have taken into account the current economic environment.

employees and families. This can enable organisations to adapt to changing business conditions and individual employees to better balance their work and family life. The Taskforce was established in November 2009 by the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions. non government bodies and government departments – to provide expert perspective on flexible working practices.6 Flexible Working: working for families. flexible working allows them to better balance their home life with their responsibilities at work. and the recession has created a climate where there is an even stronger appetite for the business case for flexible working. older workers. working for business Executive Summary This report and its recommendations are based on the discussions and insights of the Family Friendly Working Hours Taskforce . as well as improving work life balance. This can in turn translate into improved productivity and by extension improved profitability. family and caring responsibilities which are shared more equally than ever before. The world of work has seen enormous economic and social changes. the benefits of this are not limited to parents but will have benefits for other groups such as older workers and carers of older or disabled relatives and friends. flexible working can help retain staff – and holding onto experienced and skilled staff is important in maintaining quality and containing costs. For employees. it can also increase commitment and loyalty of staff members. carers and a growing population who want a better balance between work and home life. organisations that represent business. In today’s society. both men and women want to find a balance between work.a group of representatives from business. so employers should be able to recruit people with more skills. families. . The aspiration is that by enabling more people to work flexibly. Although the creation of the Taskforce was originally driven by the desire to make jobs more family friendly for those with children. The Taskforce believes that flexible working is good for businesses. Why is flexible working important to both employers and employees? Flexibility in the workplace is about developing modern working practices to fit the needs of the 21st century. Both employers and employees can gain from flexible working opportunities as both parties have the flexibility to organise their working arrangements in a way that suits them. There is a wealth of evidence to support this. Offering flexible hours widens the talent pool. this will help achieve reductions in the number of people dependent on benefits and the number of children of working parents who live in poverty and a reduction in carbon emissions by changing the pattern of travel to and from the workplace. For businesses.

working for business The business case for flexible working The evidence demonstrates that there is a strong and compelling business case for flexible working: • • • • Falling absenteeism and higher retention leads to a reduction in costs – 65 per cent of employers said flexible working practices had a positive effect on recruitment and retention thus saving on recruitment. In considering our recommendations. . We have structured the recommendations under three main themes • • • Supporting employers Public sector leading by example Stimulating the recruitment market Supporting employers Strategic recommendation: To support cultural change across the labour market the Taskforce recommends that Government convenes a small group of representatives from business and organisations representing employers to discuss. we recognise that different jobs are suitable for different forms of flexible working. we have made both strategic and practical recommendations for government. Increased ability to recruit from a wider talent pool – 42 per cent of employers reported that flexible working had a positive effect on recruitment in their establishment Greater loyalty amongst staff – 70 per cent of employers noted some or significant improvement in employee relations.uk as a portal to encourage and support flexible working. Bearing this in mind. and so increase the supply of high quality staff to employers. Following from this. Recommendations for change We have produced a number of recommendations to support cultural change with regard to flexible working – these should increase the number and range of jobs that can be worked flexibly in some way. The results of this group should feed into the work to enhance Businesslink.gov.7 Flexible Working: working for families. Our ultimate vision is that employers are supported to develop flexible working practices so that roles are defined based on their outputs. Increased productivity – 58 per cent of small to medium sized enterprises reported improvement in productivity. induction and training costs. agree and promote a business case that employers will listen to. and full time 9 to 5 working is no longer the default working arrangement. employers and organisations representing employers and employees. we believe that practical steps are required to ensure that the messages around flexible working are clearly communicated and information on the business benefits is accessible to all employers.

Practical recommendation 3: Encouraging larger employers The Taskforce recommends that larger employers review their practices in relation to flexible working in the light of this report and its follow on actions. For example.uk to its members and specifically that links are placed on trusted sites. the Government could consider piloting an on-line forum linked to the Business Link website which allows businesses to post questions.gov. the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) proactively promote the flexible working pages on Businesslink. working for business Practical recommendation 1: One stop portal for employers Building on the commitments in ‘Building Britain’s recovery’ the Taskforce recommends that Government reviews the reach and content of Businesslink. it should clearly distinguish the information it provides on legislation and regulation from information that provides more practical help and encouragement. advice and comments on flexible working practices.uk. recruitment and management) drawing on existing guidance from a range of organisations rather than commissioning new work. Practical recommendation 2: Support for employers without dedicated HR function Beyond enhancing the information on flexible working on Businesslink. the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).8 Flexible Working: working for families. In doing so. including using case studies covering a variety of different. The Taskforce recommends that organisations such as the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). The portal should include or enhance its information on: • • The business benefits of flexible working.gov. .gov website with regards to flexible working. the Taskforce recommends that Government reviews the practical just-in-time advice and tailored support mechanisms that are currently available. size. sector and types of employers demonstrating how these practices can be implemented Practical hints and tips (covering job design. It should assess the scope to improve accessibility and availability of provision so that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and organisations without a dedicated HR function are supported to effectively design and manage flexible jobs.

• Stimulating the recruitment market Strategic recommendation The Taskforce recommends that Government consults with recruitment agencies (including Jobcentre Plus) on how best to stimulate the recruitment market for permanent and high quality flexible workers. working for business Public sector leading by example Strategic recommendation: Government The Taskforce recommends that Government continues to lead by example and actively encourages central government departments and other public sector organisations to improve their own practices in terms of designing and managing flexible jobs at all levels. It also recommends that when the IT service improvements to help identify and match job seekers to part time and flexible job opportunities are implemented (as set out in Building Britain’s Recovery).9 Flexible Working: working for families. Design and management of flexible jobs should be built into management training in the public sector. Practical recommendation: the role of Jobcentre Plus The Taskforce recommends that Jobcentre Plus enhances its specialist training for its employer engagement team to enable them to confidently and systematically discuss with employers the benefits of offering more flexible roles within their organisation. so that job adverts reflect the need to ensure that potential candidates who want to work flexibly do not feel constrained in applying. JCP actively promotes this service and the benefits it can bring to all businesses. To challenge the default assumption that all jobs are full time and fixed hours/location: • Hiring managers in central government departments and other public sector organisations should consider how a role can be worked flexibly before recruiting both internally and externally. Job vacancy information in the public sector should clearly indicate where flexibility is available. . and specifically on the role the recruitment sector can play in encouraging employers to adopt flexible working practices and in matching candidates.

2 The Work Foundation (2001) ‘Gender. Introduction We believe that in order to achieve true cultural change. There are some plausible market failures that may help to explain this. 1. This is why we have concentrated specifically on understanding how employers can be encouraged and supported to offer and implement more flexible working practices. This report is aimed at employers and sets out the recommendations of the Taskforce. where flexible working opportunities have increased at all levels. Where the proportion of people who apply to work part time and the proportion of posts that are part time are both relatively small. there is a relatively open and flexible market for labour in the UK – there are vacancies and lots of people looking for work. So why is intervention required? Research suggests that most full time employees would prefer to work shorter hours. Employers may not know enough about recruiting and managing part time/flexible workers and see it as an extra burden It may not be in recruitment agencies’ interest to recruit part timers or job sharers if they are paid a share of the wage.1 Economics of the job market On the face of it. and many people already working part time or flexibly. where opportunities for progression may be limited. • • • • Many employees think that if they ask to work shorter hours their employer will think they are not committed to their job. So in principle people should move to the places best suited to their skills. and be paid a wage that reflects their productivity.2 And though the availability and take up of flexible working practices is increasing. working for business 1. more needs to be done to promote the business case for flexible working to employers and importantly more support is required to help all businesses to realise the benefits of flexible working in their organisation. employment and working time preferences in Europe’ . as the work required by them is the same or more. some forms of flexible working – especially part time work – are concentrated in low paid and low skilled jobs. matching the demand and supply can be more difficult than for full time posts and so may mean the market does not operate effectively.10 Flexible Working: working for families.

” 1. A flexible workforce can also adapt quickly to changing business conditions. We have therefore defined quality as “everyone has the same opportunities for progression.3.1 Employers Flexibility in the workplace is about developing modern working practices to fit the needs of the 21st century. or varying start and finish times.3 Why is flexible working important to both employers and employees? 1. In addition to ensuring there is equality between people working different hours and patterns. Offering flexible hours widens the talent pool. We believe it is economically efficient for everyone to have the same opportunities to progress. By moving away from traditional perceptions of part time work it is hoped employers will broaden their understanding of the full range of flexible working practices and be encouraged to offer more flexible working opportunities. part time working. This working pattern can be regarded both by employers and employees as being too restrictive to meet their needs. so employers can recruit people with more skills.11 Flexible Working: working for families. compressed hours. as some already do. term time working and working from home. and also potentially recruit and retain committed and loyal staff members. improving quality family friendly working practices also means increasing the availability of flexible jobs at supervisory and management levels. flexible hours. It is often seen by employers as meaning fixed times during the working week. Interestingly. training and responsibility regardless of the number of hours and patterns they work. flexible working can help retain staff – and holding onto experienced and skilled staff is important in maintaining quality and containing costs. Flexible working opportunities can be good for everyone – both employers and employees have the flexibility to organise their working arrangements in a way that suits them. equal pay. the global recession has provided more opportunities for flexible working: a trend to emerge from the recession is a shift towards flexible working in order to minimise redundancy. working for business 1. We feel that it is important to move away from this narrow definition and set part time work in a much wider context of the range of flexible working practices available. but is not limited to. in order to make the best use of talent in the UK. This can in turn translate into improved productivity and by extension improved profitability. It encompasses a range of options including part time working and can include job sharing. Part time work is sometimes defined as working for less than 30 hours a week or less than the normal working week of comparable jobs. This can enable organisations to adapt to changing business conditions and individual employees to better balance their work and family life.2 What do we mean by flexible working? Flexible working includes. In their recent research King’s College London found that 28 per cent of organisations had increased flexible working arrangements and 21 per cent had increased part time working. For businesses. Employers recognise the benefits of two-way flexibility to ensure they can provide quality services when customers need them. as Human 3 Confederation of British Industry (CBI) (2009) ‘Employment Trends Survey: Easing Up’ .

both men and women want to find a balance between work. KPMG introduced a new scheme. flexible working allows them to better balance their home life with their responsibilities at work. it is vital now that we learn lessons from the recession and build on them to ensure that the messages about flexible working extend beyond just focusing on part time work.3 Case study: KPMG In February of this year. and represents lost productivity for the UK economy.12 Flexible Working: working for families. designed to minimise the prospect of large scale redundancies in the current recession and enable the firm to retain its talented people. Negative. 4 The Women and Work Commission (2006) Shaping a Fairer Future . Therefore. In order to increase productivity and to give the economy a competitive advantage it is necessary to draw on and develop all available resources.2 Employees For employees. Increased flexibility in the workplace is a necessity if the economy is to return to sustained growth. This. found that the most popular response to the recession was to increase the use of flexible working. because it has meant an increase in the number of part time workers who would prefer to be full time. Over the past year. 99 per cent of flexible working requests have been accepted by KPMG. the effects of this recession can be seen as both negative and positive. In today’s society. Employers have shown greater flexibility in dealing with the recession. the CBI report.000 since the start of the recession. The report found that more than two thirds of employers had increased flexible working (50 per cent) or intended to in the near future (30 per cent). 1.000 people currently in temporary work because they cannot find a permanent position. Under the scheme. Those who have lost their job have often found alternative part time work. Employment Trends. with now over one million people working part time who would prefer a full time job. the response from employers in offering more flexibility indicates that there is potential for changes in organisational attitudes and in-house capability to both embrace and make flexible working have a much longer term effect. wastes talent and opportunity. up 300. In this respect the recession may have acted as a catalyst for a sustained shift in the growth of flexible and part time work. part time jobs which do not fully utilise their skills. there have still been a significant number of redundancies. up by a quarter on this time last year. Flexible Futures. 85 per cent of staff signed up for the scheme. staff were invited to sign up to the possibility of being asked to reduce their working week by a day with that day unpaid and/or take sabbatical leave of between four and twelve weeks at 30 per cent of pay. In terms of flexible working. working for business Resource teams have looked to these as alternative measures to redundancy. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) labour market statistics also reveal that there are 426. Additionally. However.3. the Commission argues. However positively. family and caring responsibilities which are shared more equally than ever before. 2006)4 identified that a shortage of high quality part time work across sectors and occupations in the UK means that many women are being crowded into a narrow range of low paid. broadly equivalent to the 1990s recession. The Women and Work Commission (WWC.

retired or students. only 23 per cent of fathers (compared to 34 per cent of mothers) thought that childcare is the primary responsibility of the mother. to fit around family and childcare responsibilities is an emerging theme. family and work-contemporary perspectives. M (2009) Fathers’ working hours: parental analysis from the third work-life balance employee survey and maternity and paternity rights and benefits survey of parents. Of those employees who had at least one form of flexible working available to them. or give any help or support to family members. University of East Anglia. family and work-contemporary perspectives. and who either knew. benefits and barriers Perceptions of working parents’ GEO research report 8 Bowden.9 Finding work with flexible hours. 5 Equality and Human Rights Commission (2009) Working Better: Fathers. For those that are not in paid employment. a substantial majority (78 per cent) regard flexible working arrangements as ‘very important’ or ‘quite important’ in a job. .6 Around half (51 per cent) of working parents feels their relationship with their children would improve if they could work flexibly.7 A third (33 per cent) of working fathers said they miss out on and would like to be there for breakfast with their children and just under a fifth (19 per cent) would like to be there for bedtime.5 62 per cent of fathers surveyed thought that fathers (in general) should spend more time caring for their children. L and O’Brien. 28 per cent of fathers and 21 per cent of non fathers had utilised a working from home option in the same time period. P (2009) ‘Flexible working. 54 per cent said it was a ‘very important’. working for business Evidence Box 1 • • • • • Although nearly half (47 per cent) of fathers thought that the father’s role is to provide. Evidence has also indicated that the offer of flexible working options is important to employees when looking for or deciding to take a job. P (2009) ‘Flexible working. 6 Equality and Human Rights Commission (2009) Working Better: Fathers. it would be available when they applied or were offered the job.13 Flexible Working: working for families. not working (looking after home/family). This group is made up of a much greater proportion of female employees with dependent children than male employees with children. benefits and barriers Perceptions of working parents’ GEO research report 9 Biggart. 33 per cent of fathers and 28 per cent of non fathers had used flexi time in the last year. 7 Bowden.8 Flexi-time and working from home were the most favoured options by men. which involves minimal travel. neighbours or others because of long standing physical or mental ill-health or disability. than who do not have these responsibilities. 12 Defined as those who are unemployed and looking for work. or ‘quite important’ factor in their decision to take up the job10. but who are looking for work12. Centre for Research on the Child and Family. friends. or thought. or problems relating to old age. 10 Department for Work and Pensions in house analysis of the British Market Research Bureau Omnibus module ‘Caring and Flexible working’ (June 2008) 11 This group is defined as those who look after. and a greater proportion of those who care for someone with ill-health/disability11. or those without children.

BT found that 59 per cent of employees said their corporate responsibility and sustainability programmes made them proud to work for the company. we have chosen to focus on flexible working rather than broader issues such as parental leave. consumers. more than the twice the national average. using whichever locations are convenient to them on a particular day. improve the ‘brand’ value of an organisation both internally and externally. Together with other initiatives it has made it possible for the percentage (over the last 5 years) of its UK female employees returning to work after taking maternity leave to reach 96 – 99 per cent. Clearly these issues are important. maternity pay and childcare provision. but to add value in the time available and to properly focus on family friendly working hours it was agreed we would concentrate on flexible working.3 Corporate Social Responsibility Highlighting corporate social responsibility (CSR) is seen as one way to bridge the gap between employer and employee and more broadly society as a whole.3. Director for Child Poverty) and Emma Stewart (Women Like Us). reducing waste and CO2 emissions not only has an environmental impact but it can save money. Secretary of State for DWP. As a ‘fair employer’ BT has also developed a portfolio of leading edge working practices e. flexible working. organisations that act on behalf of businesses.5 Remit and focus of the Taskforce Given our remit.000 are equipped to work flexibly. CSR may. primarily to support parents to enter and return to quality work that will enable them to improve prospects for themselves and their families while balancing their parental responsibilities. CSR is about business acknowledging its responsibility for the impact of its activities on the environment. More than 15.14 Flexible Working: working for families. It is chaired by Amanda Rowlatt (DWP. 13 Department for Work and Pensions (December 2009) Building Britain’s Recovery: Achieving Full Employment. 1. employees and families and non-government bodies and key government departments. employees and the wider community.000 of its employees work from home and some 64.g. It was formally announced in ‘Building Britain’s Recovery’13 and its purpose was to explore the challenges around improving the availability and quality of family friendly working practices – focusing on working hours and patterns – and provide recommendations for change. We think that the mix of experience and knowledge within the Taskforce has helped to sharpen the focus of the discussion and concentrate the direction of the group. It is worth noting that having government representatives from different departments on the Taskforce was welcomed by employers and non government organisations as an opportunity for real ‘joined-up’ working. The Taskforce brings together a range of employers. working for business 1. By operating in this way CSR can have a positive impact on an organisation’s bottom line. 1. For example. . for example.4 Why was the Taskforce created? The Family Friendly Working Hours Taskforce was created by Yvette Cooper.

The report and the recommendations generated from it will therefore build on rather than replicate what is already being done. the remit of the taskforce was designed to focus on support for employers. not every flexible working opportunity offered by a company will be in response to a statutory request. Therefore we agreed recommendations would focus on cultural change amongst employers in terms of encouraging and supporting rather than legislating them to offer flexible working practices. We strongly felt that ‘Family Friendly’ was not the right terminology to capture employers’ perspectives and therefore any communication to employers (including this report and its recommendations) needed to be framed in terms of the business benefits that flexible working offered. And. It was felt that an approach focusing on one group over another would not achieve the cultural change in attitudes and behaviour that is required to make flexible ways of working a standard practice in businesses. some employment rights such as the right to request flexible working apply to certain groups. It was also clear that there is not one simple solution for all employers. carers and employees awareness of their rights. We were also clear that although the creation of the taskforce was originally driven by the need to make jobs more family friendly for those with children. The Department of Health has been looking at ways to increase well-being which includes a focus on flexible working to reduce workplace stress. Therefore. there seems to be less targeted and coordinated support directed at employers. Different sizes of businesses and different roles can offer different flexibilities and challenges. and an increasing number of employers have an established policy of considering requests from all employees. the benefits of this are not limited to parents but will also impact on other groups such as older workers and carers of older or disabled relatives and friends. support needs to be directed at both employers and employees. A balance between the needs of the individual and the needs of the role/business needs to be struck. For example. importantly. In promoting the business case for flexible working to employers we acknowledge and welcome other work being done in this area.15 Flexible Working: working for families. The Women and Work Commission looked at the causes of the gender pay gap and came up with practical ideas about how to close the gap which included improving the availability of flexible working. 1.6 Recommendations from other groups The Taskforce recognises that flexible working and the benefits it brings is an important agenda across many government and non-government departmental bodies. However. Employees need to be supported to understand not only their rights with regards to flexible working but also understand the possibilities of flexible working in terms of the range of practices that are available. Whilst there are support and campaigns (by both government and non government organisations) aimed at boosting parents. they should be supported in being able to effectively manage and develop employees who work flexibly. . Of course. Employers should be encouraged and supported to be able to make confident and accurate assessments of the flexibilities that could be adopted into a role. the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s ‘Working Better’ report made recommendations for both legislative change and an increase in Government investment in training and awareness campaigns around flexible working. working for business We acknowledge that in order to increase the availability and quality of flexible working.

58. working for business 2. F. and regular home working (24 per cent). 62 per cent are either working flexibly or have taken up at least one flexible working arrangement in the last 12 months with their current employer. To exercise the right employees need to have been in continuous employment with their employer for 26 weeks. although it is clear that most employers feel that the implementation of flexible working practices is not always easy. H. Neathey.. Overall 56 per cent of all employees said they had taken up at least one flexible working practice in the last 12 months with their current employer. Casebourne.1 Progress so far We recognise and welcome the progress that has been made in the availability and take up of flexible working practices.. (2007) The Third Work Life Balance Employee Survey. working term-time only (38 per cent).15 The Third Work-Life Balance Employer Survey found that the vast majority (92 per cent) of employers would consider a request to change a working pattern from any employee despite legislation only requiring employers to do so from some employees. M. The most universally available flexible working arrangement is part time hours (available to 73 per cent of all employees). The current situation 2.16 14 Department for Work and Pensions in house analysis of the British Market Research Bureau Omnibus module ‘Caring and Flexible working’ (2008) 15 Hooker. Amongst those employers where a request had been made in the previous 12 months. 16 Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in house analysis of the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) Omnibus module ‘Caring and Flexible working’ (June 2008) . other flexible arrangements (39 per cent). only 27 per cent had to approach their employer to make a request to work in this way. The introduction of the right to request flexible working legislation can be seen as a positive tool in encouraging the take up and offering of flexible ways of working. Of those employees who do work flexibly. followed by flexi-time (51 per cent).14 Of those employees who have one or more flexible working arrangements available to them. Innovation and Skills. working a compressed week (37 per cent). and Munro. J. Female employees who work flexibly are more likely to have made a request to change the way they work than male employees. Current estimates suggest that 91 per cent of employees have access to at least one form of flexible working. job-sharing (46 per cent).16 Flexible Working: working for families. Department for Business. and should not be expected by employees where it would cause disruption to the business. Research series No. The right to request flexible working was introduced for carers and working parents with children aged up to 6 in 2003 and was extended to cover parents of children 16 and under in 2009. just nine per cent said they had turned down any requests. working annualised hours (34 per cent). The survey reported that employers continue to hold predominantly positive attitudes towards work-life balance and to perceive its benefits for employees and workplaces alike.

Flexible working is already available to its junior partners and support staff. The majority (52 per cent) of requests were made when the employee had been employed for more than a year. it has recently been reported that Allen and Overy – one of the largest law firms in the City – is now allowing its senior partners to work flexibly. or problems relating to old age. The commitments spring from the belief that during a time of economic recovery. Developing new training for middle managers in managing part time staff and looking at ways to support further development of a robust childcare sector to provide childcare for parents at times more suited to their working patterns. A greater proportion of requests to work flexibly from those with at least one flexible working arrangement available to them were made when the employee had been in the job six months or more (68 per cent). and improving Government IT to offer ‘job-brokering’ services that will help people find the right job and help job-share arrangements. lives at the same address as the person providing the care. 17 This group is defined as those who look after. This could imply that requesting flexible work is not particularly linked to the timeframes outlined in the rules for the statutory right to request. are also seen as ways to help stimulate the flexible working market. or give any help or support to family members. 20 Department for Work and Pensions in house analysis of the British Market Research Bureau Omnibus module ‘Caring and Flexible working’ (2008) 21 Department for Work and Pensions (December 2009) Building Britain’s Recovery: Achieving Full Employment 22 Department for Children. and a larger proportion of this group were from those with the ‘right to request18. Schools and Families (January 2010) Support for All: the Families and Relationships Green Paper 23 Government Equalities Office (February 2010) Working towards equality: A Framework for action . or it may relate to lack of awareness of the right19. and either had a child under the age of six or a disabled child under the age of 18. or expects to be caring. All include steps to improve opportunities for flexible working including: highlighting those employers with exemplar flexible working practices. This includes the option of working four days a week or taking additional leave of up to 52 days a year. This measure is intended to address the gender imbalance which exists at the top of many law firms. it is important to draw on. or were a carer who cares.20 There are also indications of a cultural shift in sectors renowned for having a long hours culture. neighbours or others because of long standing physical or mental ill-health or disability. compared to 21 per cent when the employee had been in the job less than six months. For example: ‘Building Britain’s recovery’ (2009)21. the ‘right to request’ flexible working was available to those who had been with their employer for 26 weeks.17 Flexible Working: working for families. for an adult who is a spouse. develop and retain all available experience and talent. working for business A greater proportion of parents who currently work flexibly made a request than non-parents. K (2009) ‘Caring & Flexible Working’ Department for Work and Pensions research report summary series. ‘Support for all: the families and relationships green paper’ (2010)22 and ‘Working towards equality: A framework for action’ (2010)23. or who although not related to them. For example. 19 Elsmore. partner. Those who work flexibly and look after someone with ill-health/disability17 are more likely to have made a request to work flexibly than those who do not care for someone in this way. 29 per cent of this group are also parents of dependent children. friends. The Government has set out a series of commitments and plans to promote and encourage family friendly working practices. civil partner or specified relative. 18 At the time the survey was carried out.

26 An Equal Opportunities Commission survey27 of individuals found strong evidence that for many people. This can disadvantage both men and women but the greater impact is on women. 2. In some organisations a range of possible working patterns have become business as usual. S. working for business 2. Family friendly working practices are not always seen as serving employers’ needs. (2007) The future of work: employers and workplace transformation. The increase in part time working can be limited to certain. 27 EOC (2007) Enter the timelords: Transforming work to meet the future. Manchester . Quarter 2 26 Office for National Statistics (2009) Annual Survey of Hours and Earning. 24 Office for National Statistics defines ‘dependent children’ as “children aged under 16 and those aged 16 to 18 who are never-married and in full time education” 25 Office for National Statistics (2008) Labour Force Survey. In 2008. as compared to seven per cent of men with dependent children. this impacts them the most. Young.3 Further challenges While the statistics above reveal a positive picture. working part time has been a compromise – a trade off in working arrangements to meet the need for flexibility that could not be found in full time and better paid work. they do not tell the whole story. Another report28 suggests part time hours entail part time pay and for most employees the flexibility afforded by part time hours is not financially viable. V. Equal Opportunities Commission working paper series. many of whom will have breaks from employment to have children and need to work more flexibly to balance their work and caring responsibilities. Final report of the Equal Opportunities Commission investigation into the transformation of work 28 Smeaton. In particular we are keen to ensure that any measures and messages around flexible working are articulated and framed in a way that demonstrates the business benefits to employers. It is also important to acknowledge that many flexible working arrangements are made through informal negotiation or by applying for a job where the right flexible working pattern already exists. D. By drawing a link between flexible working practices and employer benefits we hope to demonstrate how flexible working practices can help businesses to adapt and grow. and Spencer.. often lower paid sectors and jobs. 38 per cent of women with dependent children24 worked part time.2 Building on progress While the Taskforce welcomes these commitments we believe there is more that could be done.18 Flexible Working: working for families.4 per cent and given it is women who do the larger share of part time working. and many organisations offer this more widely than just to parents and carers.25 The part time pay gap in hourly earnings (which compares women’s part time pay to men’s full time pay) is 39.

. Hansom. J. this means that women’s wages are more important than ever to the family budget.31 29 Holmes. part time working was running some way behind flexi-time. working from home 73 per cent. working for business Evidence Box 2 29 • • • Part time work was by far the most commonly available type of flexible working – threequarters of employees (74 per cent) said that part time working was available where they work. (2007) The future of work: individuals and workplace transformation. Manchester. . Ivins. increasing to 59 per cent with children under 5. home-working and time off in lieu (TOIL) in the choice list for how people wanted to be able to work. but said there were no opportunities for full time work with their employer. Childcare is no longer seen as largely a women’s responsibility. and Yaxley. D. 57 per cent of part time employees. Equal Opportunites Commission Working Paper Series.. both men and women. face the greatest difficulties in reconciling their caring responsibilities with the demands and expectations of full time work. and flexi time 71 per cent) with 66 per cent of employees for whom it was available saying they had not used it because they could not afford to. while 42 percent disagree. said they would have made different choices if better flexible working options were available to them.19 Flexible Working: working for families. 72 per cent with children under 5. Smeaton. disagreed that their work was their ideal choice. Parents are jointly making decisions about managing tasks and responsibilities to meet the needs of their children and the family. Only 29 per cent of parents agree that childcare is the mother’s primary responsibility. it is also true that modern parenting attitudes no longer fit into the traditional expectations of the workforce.3. workers and employers in the 21st Century. K. part time work had been used by 50 per cent of people (TOIL 79 per cent. 47 per cent of people working part time. Being unable to find full time flexible work was a problem for 43 per cent of adults working part time.5 million women in the UK labour market since the last recession in the 1990s. Where it was available. There has been a net increase of 1. 30 Government Equalities Office (February 2010) Working Towards Equality: A framework for action 31 Equality and Human Rights Commission (2009) Working Better – meeting the changing needs of families. However. However. as a result.1 Gender differences Women are still the primary carers in our society and. C. D. 51 per cent of women aged 25-54 working part time and working below their potential were doing so because it was the only work they could get where they could combine work with caring for children. with 40 per cent saying that it was available to all staff.. • • • • • 2.30 Combined with the increase in the proportion of lone mother households. A quarter of women (24 per cent) working part time would prefer to work full time.

it is harder for men to access it. (2009) Equality and Human Rights Commission research. The impact of people working below their potential has implications for the economy because of lost productivity and is particularly important given the current downturn. workers and employers in the 21st Century 34 Equal Opportunities Commission investigation taken from Working families (2005) Hours to Suit: The Hidden Brain Drain 35 The Women and Work Commission (2006) Shaping a Fairer Future . There are marked differences in availability of part time working between men and women.33 The gender gap in availability is greater for parents of children under one (68 per cent of women working part time versus 14 per cent of men) and under six (61 per cent of women versus 19 per cent of men).meeting the changing needs of families. the role of fathers is crucial to a more equal distribution of work and family care between men and women but fathers’ desire to spend more time with their children is being frustrated by inflexible workplaces. In addition 2 out of 5 men are afraid to ask for flexible working. Research shows that part time working is available to 52 per cent of women compared to 25 per cent of men. five have previously held jobs requiring higher levels of skills or qualifications or more managerial or supervisory responsibility. an estimated one in five of the working population. Research suggests that many women and men who work part time seem to be working below their potential.20 Flexible Working: working for families. It is estimated that this waste of talent costs the economy up to £23 billion. G. despite many fathers stating that they would like to be involved in bringing up their children. This indicates a cultural shift is required amongst both employers and employees if more men are to be encouraged to request flexible work. While both men and women are requesting flexible working. and an additional three say they could easily work at a higher level34. et al. 33 Equality and Human Rights Commission (2009) Working Better .35 32 Ellison. At present there is a greater acceptance of the needs of women to be able to work flexibly than of men. working for business In the context of changing family forms. Research also suggests that where fathers take paternity leave it has led to them being more involved in the care of their children and has improved family life32. for fear of harming their career prospects. The case for greater involvement of fathers is clear. Out of every 10 part time workers.

L.42 69 per cent of female part time workers who downgrade. 36 Labour Force Survey (2009) 37 Labour Force Survey (2009) 38 Warren.39 Among women who work full time.38 There are fewer part time jobs available in higher-level occupations. M. and Gregory.” working below their potential. pay and career prospects. M. 118 (February). L (2005) Working below potential: women and part time work. and up to 40 per cent in intermediate level jobs. (2008a) p1. The Economic Journal. S and Buckner. or around 1. The lack of availability of quality flexible work exacerbates this further. (2008b) F52–F76. Yeandle. S and Buckner. 118 (February). T (2003) ‘A privileged pole? Diversity in women’s pay. . Manchester. 39 Grant. 41 Connolly. while for part time workers the figures have barely changed. Work and Organisation 10 (5): 605-628. retail and motor trades. 44 The Women and Work Commission (2006) Shaping a Fairer Future. 43 Grant. and Gregory. Only seven per cent of managers and senior officials work flexible hours compared to 33 per cent of those in administrative and secretarial occupations. Yeandle. ‘Moving down: women’s part time work and occupational change in Britain 1991-2001’. Only eight per cent of those in skilled trade occupations work flexible hours compared to 52 per cent of those in personal service jobs and 57 per cent in sales and customer service jobs44. 40 Papers. M. Lack of quality flexible work is seen by many as a barrier to being able to take on more senior positions. ‘The part time pay penalty: earnings trajectories of British women’. meaning that women wishing to work on a part time basis are competing for lower-level jobs. the proportion employed in high-level occupations has risen threefold over 20 years. compared with only eight per cent -18 per cent who stay with the same employer. and Gregory.41 Downgrading affects between 35 and 41 per cent of women in high-skill occupations who also move employer when changing to part time work. L (2005) Working below potential: women and part time work.22. as well as hotels and restaurants have the highest proportion of women working part time.43 Those who reduce their working hours often have to accept reduced status.21 Flexible Working: working for families. L. Oxford Economic Papers. Equal Opportunities Commission Working Paper Series No 40. are “stuck. M. M.36 The wholesale. M. Manchester.40 Downgrading when moving to part time work affects as many as 29 per cent of women from professional and corporate management jobs. working for business Evidence box 3 • • • • • • • • 42 per cent of working women and 12 per cent of working men are currently in part time employment. (2008b) F52–F76 ‘Moving down: women’s part time work and occupational change in Britain 1991-2001’. 42 Connolly.25 million women in the UK aged 25-54.37 57 per cent of women in manual jobs work part time. Gender. compared with only 24 per cent of women in managerial and professional jobs. This reinforces the gender pay gap. The Economic Journal. Connolly. Equal Opportunities Commission Working Paper Series No 40. pensions and wealth in Britain’.

So why are flexible working practices not offered by all employers to all employees? Or to put it another way.22 Flexible Working: working for families.4 Why aren’t flexible working practices more widespread? While some employers already offer flexible ways of working to employees. particularly in terms of shifting cultural attitudes to achieve an adaptable labour market that provides business with a flexible workforce to meet its need whilst also enabling individuals to balance work with their home life. working for business The lack of well paid or senior part time jobs also means that up to a million older workers who would like to carry on working past retirement but with reduced hours are unable to do so. The presence or not of women in senior jobs may be a significant factor in determining overall attitude to flexible working.46 2. 47 European Foundation (2007) Fourth European Working Conditions Survey .47 The inequality or unevenness in the availability and take up of flexible ways of working that can be seen across different sectors. it is worth noting more UK workers compared with the EU average say their working hours could fit family / social commitments well or very well (85 per cent versus 79 per cent EU average). However. are flexible working practices still not normal in everyday working life in contrast to the traditional 40/40/40 (forty hours a week for forty weeks a year for forty years) model of working? Progress has already been made. is not necessarily down to unwillingness from employers to offer flexible working practices. Evidence has shown that more and more employers are offering these kinds of practices and that these are not just limited to those groups covered by the right to request legislation. So the inequality cannot simply be explained by employers not agreeing with the business benefits of flexible working. this is not universal practice and evidence indicates (as demonstrated above) that there are still differences within and across sectors with regards to who is offered and takes up flexible working practices. the London Part time Working project found that ten of the eleven companies it interviewed that had offered part time working hours during their recruitment stage had women working within senior positions. D.45 The impact of working below one’s potential has implications for the economy because of lost productivity and is particularly important given the current economic downturn. 45 Equal Opportunities Commission investigation taken from Working families (2005) Hours to Suit (The Hidden Brain Drain) 46 Gibbons. roles and between men and women / fathers and mothers. why in 2010. however there are still obstacles. (2009) Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion: London Part Time Working Project. For example.

we discussed potential factors that could be driving the differences in availability and take up of flexible working. We also recognised that each working pattern potentially has its own set of unique problems.5 Possible causes Based on our knowledge and expertise and grounded in our experience of challenges facing employers. . older workers.5. some employers see the benefits of flexible working but cannot see how it could work in their organisation or are deterred by practical issues. accountability or decision making. We felt that there wasn’t currently a strong strategic lead which presented a coherent and compelling narrative to employers about why flexible working is good for their business. working for business We identified a hierarchy of reasons which may help explain why a cultural shift to widespread flexible working practices amongst employers has not yet been fully realised: • • • • for some employers the traditional model of full time working (i. FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) and CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development). in the City certain jobs can only be done while overseas markets are open. 9-5 Monday to Friday) is ingrained and the consideration of flexible working options as a possibility for a particular role or in their organisation has not occurred to them. 2.e. We felt that the social case for family friendly working was strong and well articulated both by Government and lobby organisations but that this was not the case for the business benefits. coordinating its work across central government departments on flexible working irrespective of whether driven by the child poverty.23 Flexible Working: working for families.1 Poor communication One of the key barriers or obstacles identified was the lack of consistent and strong messages to employers about the business benefits of flexible working. Government has a clear role to play in this. 2. carers. For example. The Taskforce calls for more joined up working within Government and also more opportunities for closer working with non government bodies in order to ensure that employers are provided with consistent messages and the practical support they require to implement flexible working practices. advice and encouragement to employers. but this is seen as fragmented advice and information. disability or carbon emissions agenda. such as business continuity. some employers are not convinced of the business case for flexible working. It was acknowledged that there was existing good practice from smaller campaigns either from Government or organisations such as BCC (British Chambers of Commerce). What is required is a clear strategic lead coordinating and championing information. some employers are not aware of the business benefits of flexible working.

By fully understanding the organisational needs of the business it is possible to balance customer and employee demands.2 Cultural perceptions Another key obstacle was seen as cultural misconceptions about employees who want to work flexibly. We recognised that SMEs in particular do not always have a dedicated or expert HR function available in their organisation. There may also be concerns about managing people who are not present in the office or people not being available when they are needed. It is worth emphasising that this is not a perception necessarily widely held by employers but in some cases may be a lingering cultural assumption amongst men themselves. fixed hours and location as the norm. on the other hand it is important to ensure business needs are being met. There may be perceptions that home workers are not working as hard as those who are in the office.5. while still achieving the necessary outcomes or outputs. Linked to this was the sense that there is a tendency to offer the flexible working option reactively. Linked to this was the perception that flexible working is still seen primarily as something for women and in particular mothers and not men (and fathers). In changing cultural perceptions we felt it was important to ensure that employees who want to work flexibly (and in particular part time) are not perceived as any less committed to their jobs than full time employees. On the one hand it is important to listen to people’s concerns as they arise. we felt that employers. data management and data access around the use of remote IT systems. do not know where to go for practical help and support to implement flexible working practices in their organisation. or that those who work fewer hours are not as committed as those working full time. jobsites or using recruitment agencies. recruiting and managing flexible jobs. In terms of designing. We felt that there needed to be a cultural shift to move managers and employers away from thinking of full time. The solution to this may lie in good communication. There may also be issues of data protection. such as the impact of home working on security and client / corporate confidentiality. There appears to a concern from employers about the impact of flexible working on staff who do not work flexible hours. There was also a sense that there may be informal flexible arrangements being agreed between employers and employees on a daily or ad hoc basis but that they may not recognise or label this as a ‘flexible working’ practice. We also acknowledged that not all recruitment practices rely on formal mechanisms such as advertising in newspapers. working for business 2. We also acknowledged that there appears to be a cultural tendency to solely design and advertise jobs on the basis of hours worked rather than a focus or requirement to consider whether or how the role could accommodate flexible working in some way. For some SMEs the usual recruitment practices involve using word of mouth. This was seen as being linked to trust but also a willingness by employers to be flexible in order to retain members of staff. particularly SMEs. Other concerns were identified around the implications of certain types of flexible working on the business. Offering flexible working opportunities to some members of staff may cause resentment amongst other members of staff.24 Flexible Working: working for families. . rather than proactively considering flexibilities at the point of designing a new job or the reconfiguration of an existing job.

6 Focus of the recommendations From this discussion. There may also be concerns around health and safety issues about home working in particular. These were chosen because they were felt to be a priority and also take into account the recommendations made from other groups. Technology does not remain constant and IT skills can become out of date as quickly as new technology is developed and implemented. The intention was to build on these rather than replicate them. there may be other concerns about managing staff remotely. We are also aware that the introduction of new technology and working practices could lead to ‘stress’ and other negative attitudes. The Health and Safety Executive has issued guidance48 specifically around home working to help employers. Providing practical help and support with job design and re-design and recruitment practices. 2. Promoting the business case to employers and recognising sector differences. More broadly. The remainder of this report presents the recommendations generated by us within a broader discussion of the following key themes: • • • Setting out the business benefits for flexible working. working for business In addition to these IT and security risks. It is therefore important to have the right support structure in place throughout the change process. It is important to ensure that the equivalent health and safety checks are carried out at an employee’s home as those carried out for someone working on the employers’ premises. For example.25 Flexible Working: working for families. the right technology could be used to facilitate the implementation of flexible working practices across a range of industries. This is a particular problem for those who have been out of the labour market for even a relatively short period of time. employers who provide home workers with equipment to carry out their work have a duty to ensure that the equipment is suitable for the job being done and that proper information and training is given on how to use the equipment. . We recognise the importance of IT solutions alongside business needs and job re-engineering. we focused on three main themes from which to generate strategic and practical recommendations. 48 Health and Safety Executive (1996) Guidance for employers and employees on health and safety. Remote working in particular can place a heavy reliance on IT skills. so that the job can be done properly and safely.

Research series No. working for business 3.51 49 BT. rising to £12. CIPD estimates that the average turnover cost per employee is £8200. notably by helping to reduce staff turnover and absenteeism The evidence Replacing staff and training new ones can be very expensive and a high turnover of staff adversely affects any business.000 for senior managers or directors. saving about £5 million a year in recruitment and induction costs. the availability of flexible working arrangements resulted in improved retention. For BT.com – Society and Environment 50 Hayward. Department for Business. with the percentage (over the last 5 years) of its UK female employees returning to work after taking maternity leave reaching 96 – 99 per cent. 63 per cent said that flexible working practices had a positive effect on recruitment and retention.. The business case for flexible working The business case for offering flexible working options to employees is strong: Flexible working can lead to a reduction in costs. Innovation and Skills. Home-working has also saved the company £6000 per annum for every home worker employed. So increasing retention can save the business significant amounts of money.50 The CBI also asked employers about the impact of granting requests for flexible working specifically in regard to recruitment and retention. 86. through utilising flexible work BT has saved over £500 million in accommodation costs. B. Furthermore. A. Fong. B.26 Flexible Working: working for families.49 The Third Work Life Balance Survey of employers found that 38 per cent of employers reported that flexible working had a positive effect on absenteeism and 42 per cent reported that it had a positive effect on labour turnover including retention of female staff. 51 Confederation of British Industry (CBI) (2009) Employment Trends Survey: Easing Up . (2007) The Third Work Life Balance Employer Survey. and Thornton.

B.. Absenteeism is low and retention rates are around 90 – 95 per cent. Research series No. D. In a YouGov Survey55 of 1000 company directors. Hansom.How small firms are doing it (June 2007) Flexible working can lead to higher productivity The evidence Research from the British Chambers of Commerce found that 58 per cent of small to medium sized enterprises reported improvement in productivity (46 per cent some improvement. The company offers its employees the choice to work flexible hours.. 86.53 In other research54 more than half (52 per cent) of those who had worked from home said ‘the arrangement allows me to be more productive’. Many older workers carry on working for the company after normal retirement age and the company is recognised as an ‘Age Positive Champion’ by the Department for Work and Pensions. B.. of the 667 that have flexible-working policies. tourist guide services are provided almost 24 hours a day.27 Flexible Working: working for families. C. J. 12 per cent significant improvement). Employees on the tour buses work 362 days a year between 8. Ivins. 54 Holmes. recently asked 200 senior and middle managers in the services sector about their work environment. 53 Hayward.52 Similarly. Almost half said they found it hard to be creative or innovative in the office and 36 per cent said they were more productive when working at home56.00pm. This initiative started with older workers over the age of 40 who often want to work reduced hours. and Yaxley. Manchester. Fong. Gensler. Innovation and Skills. Source: BCC / CIPD report Flexible Working: Good Business . A (2007) The Third Work Life Balance Employer Survey.. 52 British Chambers of Commerce (2007) Work and Life: How Business is striking the right balance. Twice a year at the beginning of the summer and winter seasons. 55 YouGov Survey (2006) 56 Gensler (2006) ’These Four Walls: The Real British office’ London. and 75 per cent thought that their employees were more productive or at least as productive when working flexibly and at home. the company writes to its employees to ask how many hours they would like to work in the coming season. . the Third Work-Life Balance Employer survey found employers reported a positive effect on productivity. US architecture practice. Department for Business. The initiative has expanded and now applies to all of City Sightseeing employees. this has expanded their recruitment market among students and women returning to the labour market. For the company. (2007) The future of work: individuals and workplace transformation Equal Opportunites Commission Working Paper Series. K. D. and Thornton. the firm behind the new interior of the London Stock Exchange.00am and 6. 50 per cent identified increased productivity as a benefit. working for business Case Study 1 – City Sightseeing Glasgow City Sightseeing provides sightseeing tours of Glasgow using double-decker buses and tourist guides who ‘meet and greet’ clients at airports. Smeaton.

In a survey by the Equal Opportunities Commission58 one of the reasons given by women as to why they were working below their full potential was because they could not find part time work which properly utilised their skills and experience.5 million people were not fully using their skills and experience at work and would have made different choices if flexible working had been available. the report found that many women are working well below their talent. L (2005) ‘Working below potential: women and part time work’ Equal Opportunities Commission Working Paper Series No 40.6 million non-parents. . Another report59 found that firms offering family friendly practices can attract better recruits.61 57 The Women and Work Commission (2006) ‘Shaping a Fairer Future’ 58 Grant.5 million. D.0 per cent of GDP57. How small firms are doing it (June 2007) Offering flexible working widens the talent pool and may attract candidates that have higher than average skill levels and bring with them extensive work and life experiences The evidence In 2006. ‘Generation Y’ – people born after 1977. (2007) ‘The Future of Work: Individuals and workplace transformation’.6 days a year.9 million were parents and 3.. Furthermore.are much more likely to choose to work where there is flexibility. K.5 million were graduates. L. well below that for the care sector as a whole. Some 50 per cent of the staff at Sandwell have been with the company for over 5 years. For example. It cares for adults and children with learning and physical disabilities as well as older people. the Women and Work Commission estimated that removing barriers to women working in occupations traditionally undertaken by men.60 Another report found that 6. D.9 million of the 6. S. when employees have children. Source: BCC / CIPD report Flexible Working: Good Business. (2007) ‘Out of work or working below potential – assessing the impact of increasing flexible working opportunities’ Manchester. 2. Sickness absence has been reduced to 0. Any employee can request more flexibility in working time and working patterns are varied. 59 Holmes K. Hansom J. The company’s policies towards flexible working are reflected in its business outcomes. The company recognises that employees needs change over time. employment at the company has gone up from 60 to 280 staff and turnover has increased from £1 million to £9. Furthermore.3 to 2. supported living and respite care to more than 350 service users and families. day care. which is an enormous waste of valuable resources.. In a global survey of final year MBA students. they may want to job-share or switch to be closer to home. The company experiences no particular problems in making flexibility work. It does not use agency staff but draws on a pool of qualified and experienced staff to support its flexible working policies.. Since 1997. Smeaton D. and Darton. working for business Case Study 2 – Sandwell CCT Sandwell CCT provides residential care. S and Buckner. which produces significant financial savings.28 Flexible Working: working for families. Yeandle. Manchester.. 90 per cent cited work-life balance as a key factor in determining commitment to their employer. Equal Opportunities Commission 60 Coopers and Lybrand (1997) International Student Survey Report 61 Hurrell. Yaxley. Botcherby. and increasing women’s participation in the labour market could be worth between 15 and 23 billion pounds or 1. 2. Ivins C.

C.6 per cent who noted no improvement. ConnectED were able to access this talent for the hours they needed for less cost by working with Women Like Us to design roles that were all recruited on a part time and flexible basis. All three candidates were highly experienced. 63 Truss. markets and sells a set of products to the education sector. 62 British Chambers of Commerce (2007) Work and Life. Source: Women Like Us Case Study 4 – Clock Clock is a digital media business employing 22 staff. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development research report London . Like a growing number of small businesses throughout London.29 Flexible Working: working for families. directors Mark Stimpfig and Andrew Goff were able to hire a marketing communications manager. more likely to speak positively about their organisation and less likely to quit than those not employed on flexible contracts. a book keeper and a trainer. With only one leaver in nearly 10 years. Source: BCC / CIPD report Flexible Working: Good Business. A CIPD survey63 found that employees who are satisfied with their work-life balance and those on flexible contracts are more engaged with their work than those who are dissatisfied or not working flexibly. Soane. E. By using Women Like Us. C. working for business Case Study 3 – ConnectED ConnectED represents. and Edwards. they were also able to attract the attention of talented candidates who are ‘hidden’ from the traditional job market. (2006) Working life: employee attitudes and engagement. ConnectED has discovered that by being flexible. Clock has saved money on recruitment and managed to retain lots of valuable knowledge. It found that those on flexible contracts tend to be more emotionally engaged. and gain experience. more satisfied with their work. By providing schools with technology ConnectED helps education providers to introduce children to the technological skills they will need later in life. How business is striking the right balance. reliability and commitment in return. How small firms are doing it (June 2007) Flexible working increases employee engagement and translates into greater commitment and loyalty to the company The evidence A BCC survey62 of employers found that over 70 per cent of respondents noted some or significant improvement in employee relations as a result of offering flexible working arrangement compared with only 25.. a specialist in the field of flexible and part time recruitment. As a result of their flexible work-life balance policies they believe that they are able to attract and retain employees with a high skill-set.

home working may help to reduce the carbon footprint. he works 10-hour days. ‘I make decisions far more quickly. who take it in turn to run the business when Ainslie is away and increased employee satisfaction levels in his division. organisations with innovative ways of working would have a better guarantee of ‘business as usual’. Flexible working not only addresses issues beyond an employer’s control but it also cost effectively expands the number of people who can continue to work normally in a disaster recovery situation For BT. Ainslie. It also identifies the fact that during any major disruptive incidents (strikes. an increase in home-working has seen a 20. workers and employers in the 21st century’ (March 2009) Flexible working may provide environmental benefits – for example.6 per cent reduction in energy useage since 1991. The evidence An Equal Opportunities Commission report64 agrees that flexible work can bring environmental benefits with positive returns for climate change mitigation and reducing transport congestion.000 litres of heating oil have been saved and metered water consumption is down by 5 per cent on 2000 – 2002 levels. . 40. 64 EOC (2007) Enter the timelords: Transforming work to meet the future. I’ve never been more efficient than I am now. while profit margins have risen from 18 per cent to 23 per cent. security alerts including terrorism).30 Flexible Working: working for families. The key business benefits are the creation of a group of seven experienced deputies.’ In his three years in the job. Final report of the Equal Opportunities Commission investigation into the transformation of work. From Monday to Thursday. the loss of key utilities such as heating in offices. fire. other buildings or customer premises. made his four-day week a condition of accepting a senior job with the telecommunications company when he was headhunted in 2005. his directorate’s revenues have doubled internationally and grown 14 per cent in the UK. self-discipline and delegation. a business with sales of more than £500 million a year. Source: Equality and Human Rights Commission Working Better ‘Meeting the changing needs of families. working for business Case Study 5 – BT Global Partners Chris Ainslie is a father of three and managing director of BT Global Partners. which would be denied to those reliant on a central office base. This ‘Disaster Recovery’ provision can be critically enhanced by a flexible working programme which allows employees to work from home. Then he switches off his laptop and mobile and devotes Friday and the weekend to family and outside interests. 84. He does it in 40 hours by ‘ruthless prioritisation’. for example.

The company has found that compared with those who remain office-based. Keeping open lines of communication and ensuring that all staff have some face-to-face contact with colleagues was seen as critical and all employees are expected to come into the office to attend staff meetings once a month. But working from home does not need to mean staff are disengaged and not as productive as their office counterparts. How small firms are doing it (June 2007) . Director Teresa Aitken says she is committed to considering innovative ways of working and the company encourages people to work from home. Source: BCC / CIPD report Flexible Working: Good Business. The company currently employs about 20 employees.31 Flexible Working: working for families. Case Study 6 – PI Costing PI Costing is a niche company undertaking legal services on behalf of solicitors. people working from home achieve efficiencies of 20 per cent or more in terms of output. The company initially experienced some difficulties in recruiting suitable staff and the decision to focus on work-life balance was aimed at helping to resolve recruitment problems. Aitken believes that the type of work performed by the company lends itself to work-life balance policies. However they addressed this problem in a number of ways. The company was initially concerned its homeworkers might come to feel like ‘outsiders’. working for business There has also been a significant reduction in CO2 emissions: BT estimates it is down 60 per cent on 1996. Professional staff drafting legal charges don’t need to be office based – a computer and internet connection at home is all they need to do the job effectively.

We also believe that cultural change to truly integrate flexible working practices in the UK labour market cannot be achieved by Government alone. Organisations representing employers and employees and non government bodies. Promoting the business case for flexible working The Taskforce believes promoting the business case for flexible working is critical to improving the availability and quality of family friendly working practices. However. Recommendation To support cultural change across the labour market the Taskforce recommends that Government convenes a small group of representatives from business and organisations representing employers to discuss.gov. have a key role to play in encouraging and supporting businesses to adopt flexible working practices. 4. A consistent message about the benefits of flexible working is required. along with employers already implementing good practice. working for business 4. agree and promote a business case that employers will listen to. . It requires a cultural shift in thinking with the need to move employers away from regarding full time as the ‘norm’. Business Link was recognised as being the central portal of information for employers and that it does provide more than just information on legislation.uk as a portal to encourage and support flexible working. There may be a perception from employers that there is not a clearly branded or visible place to go for information on how to formally implement flexible working practices. To do this. The results of this group should feed into the work to enhance Businesslink. Instead more emphasis should be placed on outputs rather than just the hours required. It is recognised that assessment of whether a job can be worked flexibly needs to take account of the needs of the business.32 Flexible Working: working for families. we felt that it was primarily viewed by employers as providing information about regulation rather than practical help about how to apply flexible working practices in the real world. strategic direction and leadership from Government is required to help businesses set about realising the substantial benefits of flexible working.1 Information and communication How information and support about the business benefits of flexible working is communicated is important.

guidance on how to calculate a pro-rata salary. should alleviate employers’ fears about not being able to cope with multiple requests. e. including using case studies covering a variety of different. Promoting the business benefits by providing case study examples was seen as a valuable way of demonstrating why and how employers could offer more opportunities for flexible and part time working in their organisation.gov. It was also felt messages coming directly from government may not have the intended impact – though this was not unanimously agreed by taskforce members.gov website with regards to flexible working. recruitment and management) drawing on existing guidance from a range of organisations rather than commissioning new work. size. CBI.g. In doing so. working for business In ‘Building Britain’s Recovery’ (2009) the Government has made a commitment to use improved Government IT and develop online media to explore opportunities to promote and enable flexible working. It is important to distinguish between information about legislation and information that provides more practical help and encouragement. We agreed that it was important to harness and disseminate case studies by grouping and cross-referencing them. There is a wealth of case studies which already exist. . sector and types of employers demonstrating how these practices can be implemented. legal obligations as it is important that complying with the law is not confused with good practice. The case studies should be disseminated in a meaningful way in order to showcase best practice. This was considered a useful tool in convincing employers of the business benefits of flexible working patterns. We support this commitment and recommend that Government reviews the reach and content of the Business Link website with regards to flexible working and builds on its plans to improve the messages and information it provides on promoting flexible working. We also believe that better external advice and support in managing the legal requirements.uk to its members and specifically that links are placed on trusted sites. it should clearly distinguish the information it provides on legislation and regulation from information that provides more practical help and encouragement. plus specific help with issues such as a job design. practical hints and tips (covering job design. We recognise that some employers (particularly SMEs) do not always use formal channels for information and are likely to go to people they trust. or look to their competitors to see what they are doing. Some employers perceive that help from government will have regulatory burdens attached. We believe that this new information should be clearly set apart from employers. As well as promoting the business benefits of flexible working it should contain practical information on how to implement these practices. The portal should include or enhance its information on: • • the business benefits of flexible working. such as accountants. CIPD and TUC proactively promote the flexible working pages on Businesslink. The Taskforce recommends that organisations such as BCC.33 Flexible Working: working for families. Recommendation Building on the commitments in ‘Building Britain’s Recovery’ the Taskforce recommends that Government reviews the reach and content of Businesslink.

Where unions are recognised. We recognise that many SMEs do not have a dedicated HR function in their organisation and that many employers and employees do not know where to go for advice on discussing these issues.66 In addition to providing accessible and relevant information to employers and employees. However the childcare market remains relatively inflexible with childcare in nursery or group settings often closing locally between 6 and 7pm and offering services which are only available between Monday and Friday. For example. less than a quarter (23 per cent) know about the April 2009 extension to parents of children aged 16 and under. However. call centres are typically open from 9am to 9pm 7 days a week. The childcare sector can be regarded as an employer but also as providing a service that can support parents and carers to work flexibly. providing services over a broader range of times – as a consequence would provide more opportunities for flexible and part time working for staff in these organisations. Less than half of parents (46 per cent) are aware of the right to request flexible working. Furthermore. Therefore. It is therefore important to provide accessible and relevant information to employees. and that it may be a question of empowerment to build confidence for both employees and managers to discuss flexible working opportunities confidently and in practical terms. as opposed to 43 per cent that were concerned about maintaining staffing levels and 27 per cent that said flexible working was inapplicable to certain job roles65. working for business Evidence box 4 Only 2 per cent of businesses said they thought the number of requests received was a barrier to offering flexible working. Framing the business benefits to childcare providers about providing a more flexible service to its customers – by. research reveals that many employees are not aware of their right to request flexible working. employers and employees of SMEs require more information and help when compiling sound cases to support change in working patterns. employers will wish to consult them on relevant changes to working practices and conditions. we suggest Trade Unions could provide expertise and guidance when implementing changes to working practices specifically around family friendly working. The childcare sector was considered an area where employers may require more information to support change in working patterns. Businesses do not always work to these hours.34 Flexible Working: working for families. for example. workers and employers in the 21st Century . We feel there is a need to encourage employees to see it as their responsibility to request flexible working hours. beyond empowerment. 65 British Chambers of Commerce (2009) The Workforce Survey 66 Equality and Human Rights Commission (2009) Meeting the changing needs of families. Trade Unions could contribute to the discussion from a collective workforce perspective.

. The incidence of term-time only working was also higher (56 per cent and 25 per cent respectively).1 Sector The take-up of different types of flexible working practices are more widespread in some sectors than others. Innovation and Skills. size of employers and job levels. For example. working for business 4. Whilst flexible working may not be a single solution to a business problem. A firm that has successfully implemented flexible working for its own staff is more likely to understand the benefits and be more creative in the solution that they offer to their clients. Casebourne. Not only would this prompt them to rethink their own working practices but it would provide them with some useful tools to help their clients. it might form part of a larger package of solutions.35 Flexible Working: working for families. M. However. 4. 67 Hooker. H. compared to private sector employees (46 per cent). and Munro. and in particular some of the financial benefits. medium to large businesses may use external advisers to help them address performance issues or when they are contemplating business transformation. 58. (2007) The Third Work Life Balance Employee Survey.1. Therefore it would be valuable to raise awareness of these benefits. Neathey. There is no clear overall pattern in the take-up of different types of flexible work by occupation for employees who have at least one form of flexible work available to them. Public sector workers are more likely to take up flexible working hours when this was available to them (54 per cent). across a range of professional services firms. Department for Business. J.. sectors and job levels In considering how to promote the business case for flexible working the Taskforce emphasised the importance of recognising that there were differences between sectors. . Research series No. 4. F. there are some trends that can be picked up when individual types of flexible work are looked at separately.2 Recognising different employer sizes.2 Role of Business Advisers Any campaign to promote the business benefits of flexible working should also be targeted at business advisers.2. The take-up of job sharing was higher in the private sector (14 per cent) compared to the public sector (9 per cent)67.

as was working a compressed week (16 per cent in organisations of 250+. Department for Business. M. Managers/supervisors were slightly less likely than those without these duties to work annualised hours (26 per cent and 28 per cent respectively).equalityhumanrights. H.71 The Equal Opportunities Commission’s Transformation of Work Investigation. 53 per cent in the public. a massive 81 per cent with 250 or more employees. 68 Hooker. retail. Innovation and Skills. restaurant and leisure sector. and by only 8 per cent of those organisations of 250 plus employees68. 69 British Chambers of Commerce (2009) The Workforce Survey 70 Hooker. M. found that overall 36 per cent of businesses employ staff on a temporary. compared to smaller organisations. hotels and restaurants sector (57 per cent)70. Conversely.36 Flexible Working: working for families. Casebourne. Innovation and Skills. The portal can be accessed at: www. (2007) The Third Work Life Balance Employee Survey. sector and job level has its drawbacks as well as advantages. J. The investigation report. what works in one sector or size of organisation may not be applicable to another. and Munro. Take up of part time working was highest in service and sales occupations (62 per cent). 58. 4.69 • Differences in take-up by job level Those without managerial/supervisory duties were more likely (47 per cent) than those with such duties (22 per cent) to take up part time working arrangements when this arrangement was available.. fixed term of zero hour contract. (2007) The Third Work Life Balance Employee Survey. Neathey. Department for Business. J. F. and to job-share (8 per cent and 15 per cent respectively). 58. identified different types of flexible working that work for jobs in different work sectors. and 26 per cent in organisations of 5-24 employees). F. A similar pattern is observed for job sharing – it is taken up by 19 per cent of those who have the option in smaller workplaces of 5 -24 employees. looked at the extent of innovative and modern ways of working in the context of what would help businesses to be successful and work for employees in balancing their work and care commitments. Equally.2. Neathey. Research series No.2 Tailored approaches We are conscious that an approach targeted by size. It created a portal that enables employers to map their job functions and find out the types of flexible working that work best for their type of business.. and in the distribution. 71 EOC (2007) ‘Enter the timelords: Transforming work to meet the future: Final report of the Equal Opportunities Commission investigation into the transformation of work’ Available in hard copy from Equality and Human Rights Commission.. and Munro. For example. H. Casebourne. working patterns differ from sector to sector. A retailer with hundreds of staff is unlikely to find the experience of a retailer with one site a useful resource and vice versa. working for business • Differences in take-up by size of employer Take-up of term-time only working was lower in larger workplaces (250+ staff) where it was available. ’Enter The Timelords: Transforming Work To Meet The Future’. employees in smaller workplaces of 5-24 employees (49 per cent) were more likely than those working in large organisations of 250+ employees (26 per cent) to take up part time working.com/transformation-of-work . Some sectors rely on shift work while other sectors are more traditional. education and voluntary sector and 57 per cent in the hotel. rising to 52 per cent of those with 50 to 249 employees. Research conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce.. Research series No.

working for business However. It was thought an overarching vision involving stakeholders from various sectors would help in addressing these questions as well as ensuring consistency of message. while sectors operate in different ways. For example. they also influence one another. The key is ensuring a flow through of best practice and learning from one sector to another. For example. . there is more experience of good practice in the retail sector but there is less experience in other sectors. the retail sector influences the logistics sector and the manufacturing sector through ‘just in time’ processes and practices. This could take the form of secondary analysis of existing data rather than commissioning new research. Presenting a diverse set of case studies will help employers across a range of sectors to offer individuals the opportunity to work flexibly. The Taskforce also considered the need for additional research on exploring sector difference which could contribute to the existing evidence base.37 Flexible Working: working for families. Identifying sectors which are further ahead in adopting flexible working policies and practices is important.

The emphasis should be on ‘what needs to be done’ and ‘how much time will it take’. Problems experienced with implementing flexible practices may be around poor design or implementation rather than flexible working being inappropriate for a particular role.38 Flexible Working: working for families. particularly SMEs. nor do they necessarily require substantive changes to organisational infrastructure. . We recognise that it is important to involve existing staff or the existing employee who wishes to work flexibly in job design as people who do the roles often know how flexible a job can be and the barriers to this more than a manager does.g. team meetings are always held on a Monday when an employee works from home or on a non working day. Not only will managers require training to understand and properly assess whether a role can be worked part time or flexibly. We regard the role of managers and line managers as critical in successful implementation of flexible working practices. the required outputs and deliverables is seen as key to moving employers away from thinking of full time working as the default position. rather than starting from a point of view where all jobs are designed on a full time basis. employers need support to make flexible working a reality that also meets the needs of their business. Providing advice to employers on how to assess whether new or reconfigured existing roles could be worked flexibly is important to help attract a wider pool of talent. they will also require training to best support their employees in their new working practices. These issues are not insurmountable. more importantly. Providing practical help and support to employers As well as promoting the business benefits of flexible working. However we recognise that employers.1 Job design and re-design Job design is not just about recruitment but about designing an appropriate workload and being able to manage people who work in different ways/patterns. Understanding the prospective job role and. Job design is also crucial in identifying if a job can be worked flexibly. it may be that the job was not properly designed to take into account part time hours or that the organisational infrastructure was not adapted to support someone who works from home two days a week. 5. may find practical support to identify and address these issues helpful. For example. e. working for business 5.

1. the Government has recently committed to developing new training for middle managers in designing part time jobs managing part time staff. advice and comments on flexible working practices. which would allow companies to share best practice in this area. working for business We also recognise that this is not just about designing new jobs but also reconfiguring ‘old’ jobs for existing staff or when recruiting to fill existing posts. Employers will need support to do this and may require access to a portfolio of IT and corporate business systems and services. It should assess the scope to improve accessibility and availability of provision so that SMEs and organisations without a dedicated HR function are supported to effectively design and manage flexible jobs. It has further implications for managing flexible workers and ensuring that the employee is able to develop and progress. the Government could consider piloting an online forum linked to the Business Link website which allows businesses to post questions. Incorporating flexible working options in job design goes beyond the job specification and advert. The Taskforce recognises that there may be a fear factor about managing a range of different sets of terms and conditions. and piloting a new business mentoring twinning scheme on part time working. We felt the public sector should lead from the front in terms of its own particular recruitment practices and while we acknowledge the public sector is moving in the right direction. In ‘Working Towards Equality: A Framework for Action’72. 5. A way to address this could be to help employers to implement flexible working policies into their organisations rather than just focusing on a particular job role.2 Good Practice Encouraging good practice in advertising jobs is vital. 72 Government Equalities Office (February 2010) ‘Working Towards Equality: a framework for action’ . Recommendation The Taskforce recommends that Government reviews the practical just-in-time advice and tailored support mechanisms that are currently available. Therefore. the practical help and support given to employers could also include a wider focus integrating flexibility into the culture of the organisation.39 Flexible Working: working for families. there is still more to do. Employers often have part time workers in their workforce but do not tend to think of the full range of flexible working options available when recruiting new workers. The Taskforce also recommends that larger employers (businesses with more than 250 employees) review their practices in relation to flexible working in the light of this report and its follow-on actions. We would like to see the Government reviewing the full range of support available to employers and considering whether more needs to be done. For example. The challenge is how to encourage employers to design and advertise jobs that can be worked flexibly.

so that job adverts reflect the need to ensure that potential candidates who want to work flexibly do not feel constrained in applying.40 Flexible Working: working for families. Job vacancy information in the public sector should clearly indicate where flexibility is available. advice and comments on flexible working practices was considered. it was acknowledged that many industries might be reluctant to consult with their competitors. Options considered by the Taskforce included large organisations mentoring small organisations where best practice could be effectively disseminated. particularly at a senior level. A variety of recruitment practices were identified by the Taskforce. Additionally. it could be used as a facility to highlight good practice. Design and management of flexible jobs should be built into management training in the public sector. 5. However. These ranged from the more formal structures within larger organisations to the relatively informal ones that often exist in SMEs. working for business Recommendation The Taskforce recommends that Government continues to lead by example and actively encourages central government departments and other public sector organisations to improve their own practices in terms of designing and managing flexible jobs at all levels.2 Recruitment practices Recruitment practices by both employers and recruitment agencies can and should play a vital role in stimulating demand for flexible working practices. Industry conferences are often well attended. To challenge the default assumption that all jobs are full time and fixed hours/location: • Hiring managers in central government departments and other public sector organisations should consider how a role can be worked flexibly before recruiting both internally and externally. . The usefulness of an online facility which would allow businesses to post questions. This may be less of a problem within the public sector and not-for-profit organisations. Examples of this might include networking by existing staff or simply word of mouth. • We felt that businesses who were already adopting good practices could play a valuable role in mentoring other employers who want to implement flexible and part time working practices in their organisation. We acknowledge that employers are generally unaware of the full range of flexible working options available. Therefore. Mentoring could also take the form of industry seminars and lectures where good practice could be propagated. support should be aimed at those with no dedicated Human Resource function to ensure that it is easily accessible and targets those businesses that have the most difficulty offering flexible working opportunities.

more specifically. Therefore. Such organisations may have a disincentive to encourage employers to take up what is essentially a lower profit margin service. comments: “We believe you can unlock a tremendous amount of talent – in both the corporate and third sector worlds – by hiring women returners and other staff on a job share basis. which meant that it could double its output. Job shares work so well for small organisations. For example. With the help and support of Women Like Us Prime Timers hired two candidates for 2.5 days a week. but with very different skills and on differing projects. being able to offer their clients a wide pool of flexible and full time candidates would benefit recruitment agencies. However.41 Flexible Working: working for families. CEO of PrimeTimers. Brent Thomas. One possible way of stimulating change is by identifying skill shortages in jobs/sectors where different working patterns could help to fill gaps. At the time it had three members of staff which meant it needed to hire new personnel who could take on various aspects of the business. Where recruitment agencies have a long term relationship with their clients it may make business sense for them to introduce the idea of flexible working to their client base and demonstrate that it yields better candidates. the role of recruitment agencies in challenging employers to consider part time and flexible candidates. The role and behaviour of recruitment agencies is seen as varying depending on their market and business model. It was agreed this did not lessen the need for a ‘one stop shop’ of information where employers could be directed by recruitment agencies as part of a wider discussion. placing two part time staff may be no more profitable than placing one full time member of staff but may require twice the work. In late 2008 PrimeTimers won a huge contract. working for business The importance of the role of recruitment agencies in both the public and private sectors was recognised. voluntary and community groups to grow by handpicking talented and experienced professionals from the private sector to cross over to non profit organisations.” Source: Women Like Us . The Taskforce felt that private sector recruitment agencies that focus on full time recruitment raise possible challenges for promoting flexible working practices. which in turn impacts on the incentives and barriers different agencies face in relation to discussing flexible working with their clients. Case Study 7 – PrimeTimers South London based PrimeTimers helps charities. consideration of target and payment structure may be helpful to reflect this. with an overlap to occur on one.

g. This could in turn make these agencies more attractive to employers. an ongoing discussion between Jobcentre Plus and employment agencies about what represents “good practice” could also be helpful. the knock-on effect being a change in business practices and behaviour. Jobcentre Plus and providers contracted to DWP as part of Flexible New Deal and other welfare-towork providers) are well placed to support the employers they deal with to design and recruit for flexible and part time jobs at all levels. There may also be benefit from having a voluntary or perhaps mandatory accreditation requirement in flexible working practices for agency staff. working for business We think that there is a need to challenge recruitment practices. and by extension HR professionals in larger companies. we agreed a more flexible job search tool used by public sector recruitment agencies would give employers access to a larger part time candidate pool. to identify jobs which can be offered on a part time or flexible basis. We also think this would be a really useful service for those businesses without access to specialist HR services.42 Flexible Working: working for families. Public sector recruitment agencies (e. We considered the idea of providing financial support for recruitment agencies in terms of developing their expertise and providing an incentive for them to push part time working harder and in an informed way. and specifically on the role the recruitment sector can play in encouraging employers to adopt flexible working practices and in matching candidates. using new IT. 73 Department for Work and Pensions (December 2009) Building Britain’s Recovery: Achieving Full Employment . and better match individuals to jobs that fit with their family commitments’. In ‘Building Britain’s Recovery’73 the Government stated that ‘Jobcentre Plus will do more. This is very welcome. We think the public sector is particularly well placed to lead on such an initiative. In addition we consider that by offering to fill out applications and design job specifications and advertisements Jobcentre Plus could help stimulate demand for its services from the micro-sector where it currently has a very low share of the recruitment market. Recommendation The Taskforce recommends that Government consults with recruitment agencies (including JCP) on how best to stimulate the recruitment market for permanent and high quality flexible workers. it was felt that more work was needed to fully explore how the recruitment agency market could be stimulated to encourage employers to consider offering flexible working options when recruiting and also providing direct access to the pool of candidates who want to work flexibly. Building on this. In particular. However.

We feel that many public sector job brokers focus on entrylevel roles. particularly benefit tapering issues. the public sector is well placed to ‘up-skill’ and train potential employees in a core set of IT and customer service skills.43 Flexible Working: working for families. makes it challenging to offer the full range of flexible working options within the welfare-to-work market. The quality of vacancies can also be an issue. Their candidates are also more likely to be unemployed and very likely to have caring responsibilities which restrict their ability to take up full time employment. However. It also recommends that when the IT service improvements to help identify and match job seekers to part time and flexible job opportunities are implemented (as set out in Building Britain’s Recovery). . hence the importance of stimulating a flexible recruitment market. Jobcentre Plus actively promotes this service and the benefits it can bring to all businesses. The way the benefits system works. working for business Recommendation We recommend that Jobcentre Plus enhances its specialist training for its employer engagement team to enable them to confidently and systematically discuss with employers the benefits of offering more flexible roles within their organisation.

our ultimate vision is that employers are supported to develop flexible working practices so that roles are defined based on their outputs. Employees need to be supported to understand not only their rights with regards to flexible working but also to understand the possibilities of flexible working in terms of the range of practices that are available. importantly.although we fully acknowledge that there is still more to do. We recognise that there has been much progress in this area but feel that if real social problems such as child poverty and the gender pay gap are to be fully addressed. this Taskforce was created in order to look at stimulating the supply of flexible jobs in recognition of the fact that there are already campaigns and activities to promote take-up of flexible working amongst employees . Conclusion The Taskforce believes that there is a strong business and social case for boosting the number and quality of flexible working opportunities for both new/potential and existing employees. As noted above.44 Flexible Working: working for families. In considering our recommendations. there is still more to do. the business case for flexible working needs to be proactively and creatively promoted to employers and. and full time 9 to 5 working is no longer the default working arrangement. However. employees and specific groups and businesses – work collaboratively to encourage and support employers to implement flexible working practices. organisations representing employers. employers need to be properly supported to implement practices in their organisations that meet both the needs of the business and the employee. Our ultimate vision is that employers are supported to develop flexible working practices so that roles are defined based on their outputs. we recognise that different jobs are suitable for different forms of flexible working. working for business 6. Therefore this report has focussed on presenting the business case to employers and generating a number of strategic and practical recommendations for Government and organisations representing employers and employees. We acknowledge that supporting both employers and employees will be important in order to achieve cultural change. To achieve this. and so increase the supply of high quality staff to employers. This reflects the fact that real change is only going to occur if all parties – Government. Recommendations for change We have produced a number of recommendations to support cultural change with regard to flexible working – these should increase the number and range of jobs that can be worked flexibly. and full time 9 to 5 working is no longer the default working arrangement. .

The Taskforce recommends that organisations such as BCC. size.gov. including using case studies covering a variety of different. Practical hints and tips (covering job design.gov.uk. we believe that practical steps are required to ensure that the messages around flexible working are clearly communicated and information on the business benefits is accessible to all employers. Stimulating the recruitment market. It should assess the scope to improve accessibility and availability of provision so that SMEs and organisations without a dedicated HR function are supported to effectively design and manage part time and flexible work. . The results of this group should feed into the work to enhance Businesslink. CIPD and TUC proactively promote the flexible working pages on Businesslink. the Taskforce recommends that Government reviews the practical just-in-time advice and tailored support mechanisms that are currently available. The portal should include or enhance its information on: • • The business benefits of flexible working. Following from this. the Government could consider piloting an online forum linked to the Business Link website which allows businesses to post questions. Practical recommendation 1: One-stop portal for employers Building on the commitments in ‘Building Britain’s Recovery’. CBI. employers and organisations representing employers and employees. it should clearly distinguish the information it provides on legislation and regulation from information that provides more practical help and encouragement.uk to its members and specifically that links are placed on trusted sites.uk as a portal to encourage and support flexible working. agree and promote a business case that employers will listen to.gov website with regards to flexible working. In doing so. For example. Practical recommendation 2: Support for employers without a dedicated HR function Beyond enhancing the information on flexible working on Businesslink. working for business Bearing this in mind. Supporting employers Strategic recommendation To support cultural change across the labour market the Taskforce recommends that Government convenes a small group of representatives from business and organisations representing employers to discuss. the Taskforce recommends that Government reviews the reach and content of Businesslink. recruitment and management) drawing on existing guidance from a range of organisations rather than commissioning new work. sector and types of employers demonstrating how these practices can be implemented.gov. We have structured the recommendations under three main themes: • • • Supporting employers.45 Flexible Working: working for families. Public sector leading by example. we have made both strategic and practical recommendations for government. advice and comments on flexible working practices.

Design and management of flexible jobs should be built into management training in the public sector. It also recommends that when the IT service improvements to help identify and match job seekers to part time and flexible job opportunities are implemented (as set out in Building Britain’s Recovery). working for business Practical recommendation 3: Encouraging larger employers The Taskforce recommends that larger employers review their practices in relation to flexible working in the light of this report and its follow on actions. organisations that represent business.46 Flexible Working: working for families. employees and families. so that job adverts reflect the need to ensure that potential candidates who want to work flexibly do not feel constrained in applying. Public sector leading by example Strategic recommendation: Government The Taskforce recommends that Government continues to lead by example and actively encourages central government departments and other public sector organisations to improve their own practices in terms of designing and managing flexible jobs at all levels. Jobcentre Plus actively promotes this service and the benefits it can bring to all businesses. To challenge the default assumption that all jobs are full time and fixed hours/location: • Hiring managers in central government departments and other public sector organisations should consider how a role can be worked flexibly before recruiting both internally and externally. Practical recommendation: the role of Jobcentre Plus The Taskforce recommends that Jobcentre Plus enhances its specialist training for its employer engagement team to enable them to confidently and systematically discuss with employers the benefits of offering more flexible roles within their organisation. Job vacancy information in the public sector should clearly indicate where flexibility is available. Next steps We look forward to seeing the formal response from Government and also welcome feedback/ response from business. and specifically on the role the recruitment sector can play in encouraging employers to adopt flexible working practices and in matching candidates. • Stimulating the recruitment market Strategic recommendation The Taskforce recommends that Government consults with recruitment agencies (including Jobcentre Plus) on how best to stimulate the recruitment market for permanent and high quality flexible workers. and nongovernment bodies and government departments. .

working for business ISBN: 978-1-84947-328-6 .47 Flexible Working: working for families.